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. Russia against referring Iran nuclear dossier to UN Security Council
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 10, 2004
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here Sunday that Moscow was opposed to seeing Iran referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, warning such a step could be "counter-productive".

"To start thinking of any scenario which is not constructive to our point of view is premature and could be counter-productive," Lavrov said at a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharazi.

"We will be expecting the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA to continue," added Lavrov, who is in Tehran for two days.

He was responding to a question over whether Russia would use its veto power at the Security Council if Iran was referred to the body by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Russia is currently helping Iran build its first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr and is under almost daily diplomatic pressure from the United States to abandon the 800-million-dollar deal.

Russia has said on several occasions that it will continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran as long as the nation complies with the IAEA.

But on September 18, the IAEA board called on Iran to "immediately" widen a suspension of enrichment to include all uranium enrichment-related activities.

Iran has so far refused to do so and is facing a November 25 deadline. It risks being referred to the Security Council, something the United States has been pushing for.

The US alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

While Lavrov said it was "in Iran's and everybody's interest to suspend enrichment" activities, he gave no sign that Russia was willing to back away from the lucrative Bushehr deal.

On the provision of nuclear fuel, a deal that has been held up for several months amid a dispute over pricing and the return of spent fuel, Lavrov said he now expected a contract would be signed "in the near future".

And he said he saw "no linkage" between the deal and the November 25 deadline set by the IAEA.

For his part, Kharazi reiterated the regimes refusal to give up its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, but added Iran was "ready to accept all mechanisms to give proof that there is no deviation of the Iranian nuclear programme."

But the international community has been demanding more than that.

The European Union's so-called Big Three -- Britain, France and Germany -- would like Iran to give up its work on the nuclear fuel cycle, a process that can be used to make fuel for atomic energy or nuclear weapons.

Fuel cycle work is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a signatory, if for peaceful purposes. Iran insists it only wants to generate nuclear power to meet growing domestic energy demands and free up its huge oil and gas resources for export.

Officials in Moscow said last week that Lavrov's visit could also finalise a visit to Iran by Putin "in the foreseeable future".

During his visit, Lavrov is also due to discuss a series of economic projects with Iran as well as possible ways of cooperating to fight international terrorism.

Later Sunday he was also due to meet Iran's top national security official and nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani.

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